The effect of focal cortical frontal and posterior lesions on recollection and familiarity in recognition memory

Cortex. 2017 Jun:91:316-326. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.04.003. Epub 2017 Apr 15.


Recognition memory can be subdivided into two processes: recollection (a contextually rich memory) and familiarity (a sense that an item is old). The brain network supporting recognition encompasses frontal, parietal and medial temporal regions. Which specific regions within the frontal lobe are critical for recollection vs. familiarity, however, are unknown; past studies of focal lesion patients have yielded conflicting results. We examined patients with focal lesions confined to medial polar (MP), right dorsal frontal (RDF), right frontotemporal (RFT), left dorsal frontal (LDF), temporal, and parietal regions and matched controls. A series of words and their humorous definitions were presented either auditorily or visually to all participants. Recall, recognition, and source memory were tested at 30 min and 24 h delay, along with "remember/know" judgments for recognized items. The MP, RDF, temporal and parietal groups were impaired on subjectively reported recollection; their intact recognition performance was supported by familiarity. None of the groups were impaired on cued recall, recognition familiarity or source memory. These findings suggest that the MP and RDF regions, along with parietal and temporal regions, are necessary for subjectively-reported recollection, while the LDF and right frontal ventral regions, as those affected in the RTF group, are not.

Keywords: Familiarity; Frontal lobes; Recollection; Source memory.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Parietal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology